What could be better than a day off the day after Resurrection Sunday? How about a day fishing with your son?
Ever since moving to Weaverville I had, for some reason, come to the conclusion that my bass fishing days were over and, chalking it up to one more sacrifice for the sake of ministry, stored my beloved largemouth-snagging gear in a dark, black-widow infested corner of my shamefully treacherous garage. And that was that.
I think I just got told one too many times how amazing the trout and salmon fishing was in Trinity County and somewhere, at some point, my brain told me one didn't fish for bass "up here." Besides, I didn't know the area, and the only two bodies of water I did know of were infamous for, you guessed it, trout and salmon (with the token smallmouth bass thrown in for good measure). And I'm a lousy trout fisherman so... I could either expend energy and money equipping myself to fall in love with another species of fish, or -- I could give up fishing for fish altogether and spiritualize it by telling myself I had been called out of my 12 foot green carbon fiber canoe to instead be a 'fisher of men.' I spiritualized it. The fish rejoiced.
Then came that fateful Monday. The day before, after our Easter service, I happened to hear someone two conversations away mention something about 'fun...bass fishing... the other day... 12 minutes away...' But I was paying such close attention to the person I was talking to that I didn't have time to fantasize. And then I forgot all about it. Until Monday morning -- when I sat straight up in bed and said to my wife -- "I think there are largemouth bass living 12 minutes away from us!" She stopped what she was doing and looked at me, but didn't say anything. I took that to be a sign of mutual excitement and got on the phone to the person who had been having the conversation. A half-hour later I was on the road with my oldest son Nathan, and a little over 19 minutes after that (I took a wrong turn and Nathan observed it was hard to fish when you couldn't find water) we pulled up and parked in front of a breathtaking, quiet, solitary, cat-tail surrounded miracle of a bass-filled lake. I sighed with perfect contentment just before the dust from the sudden stop of my pick-up enveloped the cab and came rushing in through Nathan's open window (mine doesn't work). Our synchronized coughing signaled the end of the 'moment.'
Nathan was very excited to fish. He's 4 years old, so he's a man now, and naturally wants to take part in providing for the family. His uncle Tim from Fresno gave him a bright blue fishing pole last Christmas, and you'd better believe Nathan has brought up that pole ownership just about every time he hears someone say "fish." So I said the word "fish" and connected it with the word "today," and Nathan was ready to go. Once we got to the lake I got our poles rigged up, and after a moment of discussion with my new fishing buddy, we decided to hike the trail to our left and see if there might be a good spot that way. Sure enough, we rounded a corner, saw a clearing that went down between the cat tails and settled in.
What happened next went like this:
I dug around his backpack until I found Nathan's little plastic sand bucket where we'd put the worms from our backyard. I showed him how to bait the hook (he watched that part... for now). Then I showed him how to cast, and we sat down together. I pointed to his red and white bobber and said, "Now just watch that bobber. When it starts making little ripples, start reeling it in." I turned around to get my pole and Nathan asked, "How do you reel again?" I
thought he was just wanting a repeat, so I turned around to go through it again and instead saw him struggling to keep his pole upright! His bobber was dancing. "Nathan, you've got one!" I kept shouting -- "Reel! Reel!" He grunted and reeled and pretty soon, there was the fish -- Nathan's first fish! -- and I was shouting and he was just grinning ear to ear -- and it was an awesome day. My son is now a fisherman. He is a fisher of fish. Hey, even Peter had to start somewhere. And that's about as spiritual as I'm going to get about that.
Surrounded By Grace,
A Proud Dad